Rising population, a boon for India: President
Tumkur (Karnataka), Apr 7: Rejecting the common notion that the population explosion in the country was its bane, President A P J Abdul Kalam saw its 540 million youth as the greatest asset India possessed for development.
''We have to only ensure that we convert the 540 million youth to form knowledge society through quality education. Knowledge society is the means through which we can bridge the gap between the rich and poor,'' he said, interacting with students after participating in the 99th birthday celebrations Sri Sri Shivakumara Swamiji of the Sri Siddaganga mutt here today.
The President was responding to a query from a PUC student, Bharat S Javali, on whether the present rate of increase in population was an advantage or disadvantage to the growing economy of the country.
Stating that India was the fastest growing economy in the world, Mr Kalam said the GDP was growing at eight per cent and inching towards ten per cent. ''However, we have to bring the 26 per cent people below the poverty line to zero by our consistent growth performance. The most important quality needed of every citizen is the 'I can do it' spirit.'' To a query about streamlining the youth to shape the country's future and governance, the first citizen said youth have to concentrate and excel in their education in whatever field they select. The ideas of the youth towards shaping the country's future and governance could be consolidated based on systematic feedback and used in the formulation of national policies.
He reiterated his dream of making India a developed nation well before 2020. Indian students should live in a developed India with abundant opportunity for their growth and blossoming, he said.
When Vivek, a BE student, asked why India was buying most of the technology instead of developing, Mr Kalam painted an optimistic picture by stating that the situation was gradually changing. India, instead of being a purchaser of technology, had become the seller of technology in many areas like spacecraft, space launch, automobile, ICT, pharma and defence systems. Adequate funds were being allotted for Research and Development and the country had enough manpower with experience and knowledge for the same, he added.
About the less number of Government technical education institutes in the country, he said the quality of education should be improved in all the professional colleges to the level of IITs and NITs through systematic accreditation and quality assurance methodology.
Mr Kalam opined that providing an assured career in research would motivate the youth to take up R and D as a profession. There was also a need to make students understand and enjoy the beauty of science.
The President was responding to a question from Vishwavivek Anand, a BE student, on how the youth of the country could be motivated to pursue careers in R and D.
When Shazia Ibrahim Sheikh, a PUC student, wanted to know whether it was possible to live a balanced life with both modern technology and traditional values, the technocrat replied in the affirmative and said ''Our development process must ensure that we preserve our civilisational heritage. To enable the above, I have been advocating the inclusion of one hour per week moral science class taken by the best teachers in all the schools and colleges.''